I Just Had the Strangest Dream

Don’t worry. I’m not going to give anything away.

To me, no show has ever fully embraced the concept of “the journey, not the destination, matters,” more than Lost. You didn’t need to have seen the finale to pick up on that. Not to sound too much like Jacob, but life is not about the situation you’re in, but rather how and why you handle that situation the way you do. Lost was a show of ideas and of human nature. It was never, ever, a show about “hey, what’s this crazy island?” Those who are arguing over the ending or still questioning “what’s it all mean?” will probably never be satisfied, and, sadly, those people completely missed the point of the show. I think it’ll be a long time before television audiences are ready to put up with such a concept again, so for that reason, I am sad to see Lost go. 

Moving on.

The end of the most novelistic show on television got me thinking of the most outrageous, satisfying, beautiful, or completely infuriating endings to novels we’ve read. Reactions to book endings usually don’t have blogs or message boards devoted to them, so feel free to geek out in the comments.

For me, my favorite last line might be (I’m predictable, I know), “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody,” from, of course, The Catcher in the Rye. I’m also partial to the entire last paragraph of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (which I mentioned before here).

As for “infuriating endings,” I think I’m guilty of naysaying. That said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me a little mad. First, for people who did die and people who should’ve died but didn’t. Second, for the “tra la la” epilogue. I’ve heard JK Rowling talk about the book, and I understand why she did it, but when I read it I admit to making my “seriously?” face.

What is your favorite, or least favorite, ending or last line to a book? (Rule: Respect the “spoiler alert” code of not being a ruiner! Thanks.)

9 thoughts on “I Just Had the Strangest Dream

  1. I loved the last line of The Catcher in the Rye. The Harry Potter epilogue was a disappointing finish to those wonderful books, it almost read like fan fiction. To Kill a Mockingbird had a great ending too, one of the best.

    My favourite ever last line of a book is from Muriel Spark's Loitering with Intent – “It was a risky saying, for many fine first novels are followed by duds. However, I took great heart from what he said, and went on my way rejoicing”


  2. Yeah, you should read it… at least give it a few chapters. I'm a sucker for magical beings relaying stories from the 1st-person POV. Hence, Bartimaeus, a delightfully sarcastic, 5,000 year old demon put to work by a clumsy 12-year-old.


  3. Jaimie, I've never read the Bartimaeus trilogy, but I think I need to now!

    Marilyn, LOVED Never Let Me Go! Completely agree with you there.


  4. I feel the same about novels, movies and TV shows – “the journey, not the destination, matters”. I never thought about it that way before, but that’s probably why I love literary novels with great stories and beautiful language where the reader can linger over individual phrases. A novel that immediately comes to mind is GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson – so much about the journey, and such beautiful language! I love Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK, and the more modern science fiction novel, ENCOUNTER WITH TIBER by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes. Both novels include a great deal of technical information that I think adds depth. The journey, character development and inclusion of multiple genres are the main reasons why I love LOST. I’ve only watched the show up to Season 2 on DVD, and realize that I definitely need to finish watching the series soon, since everyone’s talking about it and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I accidentally see spoilers online. 🙂

    I was also disappointed with the way the HARRY POTTER series ended. I thought too much information was simply dumped into the ending. Up until that point, I loved the series. It really was an amazing journey!

    I know there have been other books in which I didn’t like the ending, but I’m drawing a complete blank as to which ones those are.

    I thought one of the saddest, most heartbreaking but most well-written endings was the one for NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro. That book was so well-written, I felt like I wanted to dive into the novel and save the main characters.


  5. I'm with Pam im a lot of ways. Breaking Dawn was all kinds of infuriating from the POV change half way through the story, to the weird imprinting thimg. Course Bella never really maturing and becoming a strong character was annoying as crap anyway, she was basically insecure and unsure through all the books and never truly evolved.

    I LOVED Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon that one had me crying in all sorts of ways through the whole thing. But then her series is overall amazing so that was to be expected.


  6. I absolutely loathed Breaking Dawn. In fact, I like to consider Twilight a trilogy because that point disappointed me so much. It's like Bella became a completely different character in the book…not to mention the birth scene and the whole creey imprinting thing. Yuck.

    Thanks so much for defending the Lost ending. I'm so annoyed by everyone's belly-aching today. If you're a fan of the show, you know that the producers aren't going to spoon-feed you and give definitive answers. With that said, I think the finale stayed true to the show. I'll miss it, as well. 😦


  7. One of my favorite book endings is in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. (I love those books.) Because death and redemption happen in the last two sentences, and you're just “WTF” — in a good way.

    Least favorite ending? I'm drawing a blank, so I'll second what you said about Harry Potter. Bad fan fiction.


  8. The end of Jim Butcher's CHANGES is the first that springs to mind. I think somewhere he claims it's not a cliff hanger, but it is. It so is. Not a bad ending, but one that makes you turn to the acknowledgement page, read it hoping for the story to continue, flip back to the last page, realize that's it, and go “Aaaargh!”

    Argh in this case being a sound of aggravation because now I have to wait a whole year until the next book comes out.


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